If you’re of a certain age, you might remember Horn & Hardart and the Automat. It was a place in New York where you could pick your meal, plate by plate from a wall of vending machines. As a kid, putting a nickel in the slot and getting a piece of pie never got old.
Applestone Meat Company has taken the Automat concept and brought it into the 21st century. In their new Hudson NY store, gleaming rows of vending machines offer an incredible array of meats. There are literally hundreds of cuts to choose from, ranging from beef—fresh or dry-aged, to chicken, pork, lamb and even a whole case dedicated to sausages.
Besides the incredible variety, there’s the convenience factor — both the new Hudson location as well as the original Stone Ridge store are open 24/7. And “all of the meat we source is from animals raised without added hormones or antibiotics, and they’ve all been raised by farmers who are truly committed to their well-being.”
Now you’re probably thinking two things, why would I need a 24-hour butcher and isn’t this going to be expensive? I can’t really answer the 24 hour thing except to say that there have been times when I’ve thought that I’d really like to make _____ but the butcher is closed (and call me a snob, but I don’t buy meat from a supermarket). And maybe you have a job where you’re not out and about during normal business hours. Now you have options.
If you’re used to getting your meat from a butcher or farmers’ market, you’ll find their prices are pretty reasonable. If you’re used to big box prices, well…
I was invited by Applestone to see the new Hudson location and pick up a “care package.” Since my friend Janet has been raving about the quality of the meat for ages, I jumped at the chance. The new store is just off the beaten path of all the action on Warren Street. From 11-6 there’s a service window where you can place special orders (online also), choose from their frozen inventory, or pick up special orders and the staff is happy to show you around the space and explain how the vending machines work.
The machines are stocked daily and everything is vacuum packed, which is great because it extends the amount of time it can sit in your fridge and if you freeze it, prevents freezer burn. All the packages also have a use- or freeze-by date, so you won’t be wasting food.
My “care package” had a beautiful dry aged ribeye steak, a couple of lamb loin chops, some ground beef and a package of chorizo. My chance to test out the vending machines came when I discovered they also have merguez, so I bought a package.
We “grilled” the merguez and chorizo in the grill pan and they were both really tasty. If you worry about either of them being overly spicy, don’t. They both are well spiced, but not killer hot.
It took a while before we decided to treat ourselves to the ribeye, but finally the right night came and we cooked it to perfection in the cast iron pan. It was juicy and tender with great steak flavor. You got a hint of the aging process, but again, not overwhelming (which is more to my taste). That and a couple of ears of corn, and we had the perfect end-of-summer dinner.
Although Applestone’s new Hudson location is a little off my normal route, it’s great to know it’s there and open all the time. I’ll definitely stop by anytime I’m in the area. The meat was great, it’s reasonably priced and hey—there’s the fun factor of playing with the machines.